- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Farming the Digital Acres

When it comes to new insurance products and services, risk and knowledge are the critical elements.  A wise leader put it this way: “There are three segments that will make or break new initiatives: Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns. Approach accordingly.”

We will take a look at how The Co-operators –- a Canadian P&C and life insurance company – appears to manage the “Knowns” well.  But first, a bit of background.

From the beginning to now …

The Co-operators started in 1945 in Guelph, Ontario, a farming community northwest of Toronto. On its historical website, the Co-operators noted that the driving force was the farmers’ loss of “most of their belongings, their savings, and their life insurance during the Great Depression.”

Farmers understand risk better than most others, and take risk with the “knowns.” As The Cooperators learned that insurance risk had similar aspects with farming.  This set the course to “growth.”

And time flew.

And the company achieved successes.  Over the first 75 years, there has been expansion of products and lines of business.  The 2018 Direct Written Premium (DWP) for Property / Casualty came in at C$3.295 billion.

Digital actions to meet the changing needs

The Co-operators learned that technology was a critical factor to growing the business profitably.  In 2018, The Co-operators included new investments to address unmet insurance and financial services needs.  These focused on investment priorities and align with three themes:  “meeting emerging and underserved insurance needs, enriching the resiliency of Canadians, and adapting to the changing nature of transportation.”

Rob Wesseling, The Co-operators’ President and CEO, said, “We’re collaborating with InsurTechs that offer cutting-edge technology and solutions to meet the changing needs and preferences of our clients.”

We are not alone …

The Co-operators sought and selected knowledgeable suppliers. One key organization was Slice – a provider of cloud-based solutions for the on-demand insurance space.  The organization has deep understanding of both insurance and technology in the Canadian environment, allowing fast starts.

The Slice product used in The Co-operator is named Insurance Cloud Services (ICS). In a release, Tim Attia, CEO, said:

The ICS platform is rapidly growing as insurers increasingly realize the need to engage a cloud-based platform and the competitive edge a fully digital on-demand insurance offering provides. This exceptional bench of new and returning investors will be a tremendous asset as we continue scaling our business and experimenting with the unmatched potential of digital insurance.

Note: the ICS platform is built for insurance.  Sorta like The Co-operators.

Ready, Set …

The activity started in early 2018.  Over the year, there was a focused buzz. In addition to development and delivery, a new product name emerged: duuo by co-operators™.

The Co-operators put out a press release defining the initial product: “First and only episodic short term rental insurance policy, that has been developed specifically for hosts who rent their properties using popular platforms.”

In addition, the two entities took to insurance events to expose the theory and reality of new digital tools and products. This allows both entities to learn about each other and share results with other insurers and suppliers. At’s 2019 Technology Conference (“A New Insurance Order”), Philippe Lafreniere of Slice and Peter Primdahl of The Co-operators presented together on “The Collaborative Future Of InsurTech.”

… And go further …

In November, 2018, The Insurance Institute published early results 6 month on, noting that Duuo could ‘go way beyond home share.’

Philippe Lafreniere, Slice Labs’ chief growth officer, noted in the Institute’s article:

Coverage for homeowners listing their place on sites like Airbnb – dubbed Duuo by Co-operators – is just the “initial product” in Slice Labs’ partnership with The Co-operators Group Ltd.

I had the opportunity to chat with Tim Attia a few weeks ago.  Following the Farmer’s approach, there are more acres to plant.

What do you think?

Slice will be participating in the 2019 Executive Forum on August 28 at the St. James Cathedral Centre, Toronto.  This event is focused on issues and opportunities for senior executives and farmers.